Twenty years ago this week, NATO launched its first major military campaign. The US, Britain and other NATO powers pounded Serbia for 78 days. This was not a purely military operation: NATO also destroyed what it called ‘dual-use’ targets, such as factories, city bridges, and even the main television building in downtown Belgrade, in an attempt to terrorise the country into surrender.
The Kosovo War was the final chapter in the break-up of what was then Yugoslavia. The province’s ethnic-Albanian majority faced rising repression throughout the 1990s, while most of Yugoslavia’s constituent republics broke away — through protracted bloody conflicts in the cases of Croatia and Bosnia. Although the official policy of Kosovo-Albanian leaders was non-violence, the growing influence of the armed separatists of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) led to increasing attacks on the central state authorities and on Kosovo’s Serbian minority.